In 2019, Alaya’s Master Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainer rolled out a training program for carers, family and friends of clients in the Primary Mental Health Clinical Care Coordination (PMHCCC) Program. PMHCCC is a Murray PHN funded program supporting people with moderate to severe mental illness. The PHN funded this training to build the community’s capacity to support mental illness.
Alaya recommended the Standard MHFA as it teaches people how to support others experiencing mental health symptoms or a mental health crisis. The course included:
- Evidence based information to guide effective support
- Clear guides for signs and symptoms of mental illness
- An action plan to guide community members
- Manuals from BeyondBlue and MHFA Australia.
The community’s response to this training exceeded both Alaya’s and the PHN’s expectations. Within 2 weeks of our first advertisement, we had to close registrations and create a waiting list!
The need for this type of support is highlighted by the heartfelt gratitude expressed by carer participants:
“The benefits of [the course] will last a lifetime, and I have already used what I learned, many times, since finishing the course.”
“I like the idea of having people around Shepparton trained to connect with others when they are struggling and unable to ask for help. I think there is certain emotional processing techniques that can be learnt by everyone. You could take the burden off emergency and train carers and workers with these techniques.”
“Best thing I ever done. Helps me not only with supporting and assisting others but also with my own mental health. Great content.”
An unanticipated outcome from holding the course is that consumers began sending requests to participate, having heard from their loved ones how MHFA helped them to better understand how to articulate their needs and feelings to others.
Building a community’s capacity to better respond to and support people with a mental illness through courses like Mental Health First Aid is an investment for any organisation or community group – private sector employers, local councils, community groups and governments.